Thursday, June 4, 2020

A Blueberry Crumble Day

Photo: nutmegnanny.com
Today I will satsify a craving for blueberry crumble. There are several fruit and batter desserts that are alike. A crumble has a little oatmeal in the streusel topping.

So in a nutshell what are the differences between 5 similar fruit desserts?: A crumble has a streusel topping made of butter, all purpose flour, oats and sometimes nuts, and it is baked in an oven. crisp is a crumble with no oatmeal or nuts (and yet people confuse it with a crumble). A cobbler is fruit topped with biscuit dough usually of all purpose flour. A buckle has a greater cake to fruit ratio, a fruit coffeecake if you will. And finally, a brown Betty is made with bread crumbs and brown sugar. (I'd eat a brown Betty, but have never made one.) I almost always go for a crumble. Here's the recipe:

Blueberry Crumble

Ingredients:

Blueberry prepartion
16 oz fresh (or frozen) blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice (or squeeze 1/2 of a lemon)
a sprinkle of salt
Chopped nuts are optional.
💟💙💜
Streusel topping
1/2 cup (1 minute or 5 minute) oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 - 4 tablespoons butter (One stick has 8 tablespoons. I use as little as I can get away with, but use up to 4 tablespoons for a good streusel texture and flavor.)
a sprinkle of salt

Directions:

1) Mix the bluebarries, sugar, lemon juice, flour and salt.

2) Pour into a buttered square or round 9" pie baking pan.

3) In a mixing bowl combine the next 6 streusel topping ingredients and mix well. You can work the butter into the flour with your fingers, if you wish. 

4) Distribute the streusel topping evenly over the blueberry mixture.

5) Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 30 - 35 mintues. The blueberry mixture will bubble and the streusel topping will start to brown.

Remove from the oven and eat warm. Some people like to add a scoop of ice cream or whipping cream, but I eat it as is.


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Monday, June 1, 2020

Sweater Clips Are Useful


Finalyson Half-Sleeve T-shirt Dress
I'm a huge fan of a T-shirt dress so when Uniqlo put them on sale for under $20 I bought one to get me through the spring season. Cozy to wear at home and nice enough to run errands in around the neighborhood without a change of clothes. The 100% cotton is thick and super soft. Half sleeves let you wear the dress without a sweater. Two practical side pockets sold me on the dress. A smart purchase at an unbeatable price. And yet, I only ordered one dress (not all the patterns available) because the dress is boxy, not an A-line cut, which I knew from customer reviews. To give it a shape I use a sweater clip. 
I'm considering ordering 2 matching gold sweater clips to attach to the sides of the dress instead of using a single clip which I attach to either the front, or the back of the dress. Some of the metal sweater clips are fancy like jewelry. Or I may be happy with the one I own.

Truthfully I never use a sweater clip to close a sweater. Do you? If I start, then I can justiful ordering 2 more!
Photo: Walmart


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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Echo's Swimming Cover ups

Confession: Since my teenage years my habit is to wear a man's short sleeve cotton shirt as my bathing suit cover up. Old habits die hard! Perhaps it's time for me to finally buy a stylish real cover up! Wisely, many of us are still in lockdown, so retail stores are closed, yet online ordering is fine for cover ups, which tend to be oversized and forgiving. Echo New York, the maker of fine silk and cotton scarfs, launched super cute feminine cover ups for the spring/summer. There are a variety of styles, colors and prints, as well as, fabrics to suit different tastes and body types. I'll show you a few of my favorites:

1) Floral Hankerchief Hem Dress - Top image 100% polyester in 3 colors. So adorable you could wear it anywhere this summer!


2) Beach Stripe Maxi Caftan - My favorite 100% cotton fabric for a cover up; also in 3 colors; 3) Bi Color Lily Smocked Caftan - 100% polyester in 3 colors; 4) Crochet Maxi Caftan - 100% rayon in 3 colors.


5) Tropic Palm Chiffon Caftan - 100% polester in 4 colors.

There are skimpy choices also on Echo's website, but I like to be shielded by the sun, as well as, want to feel fashionable and appropriate if I leave the beach, or pool for the drive home. Perhaps we'll need to skip a public watering hole this year, but some of my readers have access to a sparse beach where they can practice safe social distancing. Lucky you!

Echo's bathing suit cover ups are perfect for lounging in the backyard, or wherever you are! Oh let the balmy weather begin!


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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Old Navy Makes Cotton Face Masks

What a nightmare our global pandemic is. Over 95,000 people have died from Coronavirus in the USA alone. And despite the fact 80% of the ill recover, who wants to get sick for any length of time?

Moreover, humans are social beings. Six months ago could you imagine being afraid of another person's droplets? How about having to stand six feet apart from most everyone? Or cleaning your hands every time you touch an object outside your home? Buying food is stressful! Nowadays I remove my shoes before stepping back inside my apartment, then spray the soles with 3% hydrogen perioxide before placing them in a designated area to dry. WTH!

Although I've never been a germophobe, if I pass a chatterbox on the sidewalk who is careless with social distancing, I'll walk in the street. Whenever a bottleneck of people stand on the pavement, I crossover to the other side of the street ... so uncharacteristic of me, but this disease SHOULD be taken seriously!

Here in Manhattan we must wear a face covering to enter supermarkets and drugstores. It's a practice I support (and hate) in order to keep everyone safe.
Of all the cloth face masks on the market, I love what Old Navy is offering. Made of 3 layers of cotton poplin, they are designed according to the CDC's recommendation for non-surgical masks (which advises a mask have at least 2 thick cotton layers). They lack a pouch, yet you can place a filter inside and it will stay. I like the elestic over-the-ears strapes and the 3 folds for a good fit under your chin. 

Although there are lots of playful colors, patterns and prints made from leftover fabric from Old Navy's popular clothing, you accept what comes in a "surprise pack" of either 3, 5, or 10 masks. There are 2 sizes: children or adults. An excellent price. A cotton face mask should not cost $15+ each! But oh boy, they are on back order until the middle of June! Well worth the wait. Best price for the quality!!💙


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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Yellow Split Pea Curry

Split pea soup is delicious, but tonight I wanted something different so improvished (from looking at recipes) a yellow split pea curry. It may not taste exactly the same, but I think you could use whatever you have ... yellow or green split peas. What I like about the meal is, there's less of it, so you won't have to eat it 5 more times, the main reason I didn't want to make pea soup. Here is my recipe for the curry:

Yellow Split Pea Curry

Ingredients:

1 cup yellow split peas
3 potatoes (I used 1 medium and 2 small. Eyeball the amount), diced
1 fresh Jalapeno pepper (You can substitute a different  hot pepper, if you like. If you go dried cayenne pepper, be sure to use less.)
4 cups water
1 cup celery, diced
1/2 of an onion, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teapoons salt (I used Cajiun salt.)
bay leaf
A sprinkle of cilantro flakes
A sprinkle Rosemary flakes (Not an authentic Indian spice.)
A sprinkle of Worcestershire sauce (I toss it in soups, stews and curries, but it isn't an Indian spice. It's British.)

Optional: 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (which I didn't have. Next time!)

Directions:

1) Dice the vegetables and toss the ingredients into a saucepan in order.

2) Follow with the spices.

(You can roast the fresh hot pepper of your choice and onions with a little oil in a frying pan before tossing them into the pot to give the curry a smoky taste if you're ambitious. I skipped it. It makes a difference, but I like the convenience of not having to wash a 2nd pan.:)

2) Cook for 30 mintues or until the peas are tender, yet still firm.

Makes 2 tasty servings.

While the curry was cooking, I started dinner with a glass of merlot and brie on whole grain crackers. With the starter cheese and wine, the curry was enough of a dinner. Now that it's committed to the blog, I, too, can make it again!


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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Alexandrite The Chameleon Stone

Alexandrite in daylight and at night. (See comments.)
In 1830 a new stone was discovered in Russia's Ural Mountains. According to one (at issue) story, it was named after the Russian Tsar's 12 year old son, who later became Alexander II, an association giving the new mineral world attention. It is now found in Sri Lanka, East Africa, India and Brazil, but is very rare and therefore valuable.
Not only is alexandrite a rare gemstone in nature, it is a rare variety of chrysoberyl, an aluminate of beryllium with a hardness rating of 8.5 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, making it suitable to wear in rings, necklaces and bracelets.

Jewelers describe the gem as an "emerald by day and a ruby at night" because the chrysoberyl changes color. The stone can be a rich green in fluorescent light (i.e. sunlight; daylight) changing to a purplish [more valuable] or brownish [less valuable] red in the incandescent light from a lamp or candle at night. It has to do with the complex way in which alexandrite aborbs light. The chameleon-like qualities of this unusual chrysoberyl are so striking that such transformations in the jewelry industry are known as the "alexandrite effect."

Because it is scarce and one of the gemstones most difficult to obtain in nature, top quality natural alexandrite can sell for up to $15,000 per carat. A size over 3 carats gets very expensive.💰👑

Three characteristics determine the price: 1) Size - Bigger stones cost $50,000 - $70,000 ... more than diamonds, emeralds, rubies or sapphires; 2) It's dramatic color changing effect - i.e. how well it changes color; and 3) A color change closest to green and red - is more expensive than other combinations. The original fine stones found in Russia's Ural Mountains set the stardard of what colors are most desirable in the stones.
Images by Charlie Bexfield, Gem-A.


Certain types of alexandrites called cymophane have a "cat's eye effect," -- a band of light similar to light bouncing off a cat's eye. It was made popular in the 19th century by another royal son, Prince Arthur, the 7th child of Queen Victoria, who gave a ring with a cat's eye to Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia as an engagment gift.

Alexandrite is the birthstone (along with pearls and moonstones) for people born in the month of June, yet you will be hard pressed to find anyone born in June who can afford the natural gemstone. But hey, if you ever were to cough up the moola to buy the gem, it will appear you bought two pieces of jewelry, one you wear during the day and another at night!🤣😁
Another look at alexandrite in the center.



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Friday, May 8, 2020

Digestive Biscuits Vs Marie Biscuits

Prince Alfred (1844 - 1900), son of Queen Victoria married Grand Duchess Maria (1853 - 1920), daughter of Tsar Alexander II in 1874. The Marie Biscuit was named after the bride. Although their marriage soured over the years, they had 5 surviving children, including Queen Marie of Romania and later granddaughters who married rulers to become Queens of Greece and Yugoslavia.

When I moved to Manhattan I discovered 2 delicious tea cookies at the supermarket that are more common in Europe than here in the U.S. Both are types of shortbread cookies. They share a dry, crispy texture and are semi-sweet, but differ in types of flours used.

Sweetmeal Digestive Biscuits, developed by Scottish doctors in 1839, were my first find. Instantly hooked, they fill my cookie tin always. At $1.99 for 14 ounces, I never bake them at home ... then along comes a world pandemic. So when they are missing from the grocery shelve, literally we can take matters into our own hands with the following easy recipe:

Digestive Biscuits

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup confestionary sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk

Directions:

1) Toss the dry ingredients: whole wheat flour, baking soda and confestionary sugar into a mixing bowl and mix with a fork.

2) Dice the butter into tiny chunks with a knife, then use your fingers to mix into the dry ingredients. Add drops of milk until you get a crumbly dough.

My favorite brand of digestive biscuits.
3) Toss onto a floured flat surface and use a floured rolling pin to roll flat about 1/6 inch in thickness (eyeball it).

4) Use a round cookie cutter (or the top of a drinking glass) to cut into circles.

5) Transfer to a buttered, or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Prick holes in the buscuits.

6) Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes. The cookies should be light with you pull them out of the oven.💂

The 2nd cookie, Marie Biscuits, was created by London bakery Peek Freans in 1874 to celebrate the marriage of Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, the 2nd son of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom to Grand Duchess Maria, the only daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia. Here is how to make those:

Marie Biscuits

Ingredients:
A pack sells for 99 cents at the supermarket.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Punch of salt
4 tablespoons butter
1/8 cup milk

Directions:

1) In a bowl stir together the flour, baking soda and salt.

2) Using your hands mix in the butter (diced in tiny chunks) and milk until you get a crumbly dough.

3) Turn the dough out onto a floured flat surface and roll flat with a floured rolling pin.

4) Use a round cookie cutter, or top of a glass to cut into cookies.

5) Place on a buttered, or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Next prick holes in the dough. (Little pricked holes help distribute heat while baking.)

6) Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 8 - 10 minutes.

After dunking a few of the baked cookies into a lovely cup of tea (or coffee for Americans), store the rest in Tupperware, or a cookie tin.👑

In ordinary times, I buy these cookies at the supermarket. They are delicious and cheap. (Furthermore I sometimes grind them in lieu of graham crackers to make pie crusts.) 

But these are not ordinary times are they? Do you have any plans this weekend? Of course you don't. None of us in the world do! If you get bored sheltering in place, go into the kitchen and bake. Cookies make everything better!🏰

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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Repurpose Food Containers, Jars and Mugs

These are the food containers delis use when customers buy potato salad or coleslaw. Mine come from the health food store when I buy a pound of peanut butter. I find they are the perfect size to portion and store homemade soups, stews, chili and leftover vegetables in the refrigerator or freezer. And you can stack them inside your cupboard with dry goods such as rice and whole grains, candy, or even medicine like packets of Alka-Selter. Moreover, you can see right through them! They are available in 3 sizes: 8 oz, 16 oz and 32 oz. Mostly I use the 16 oz size.

I don't know why it took me so long to think of it, but recently I began using them (minus the tops) as organizers for like-things inside the top drawer of my night stand. As much as possible I try to repurpose something I already own to organize things since buying drawer organizers can add up to a fortune. Sometimes it's worth the expense. At times these free plastic food containers make the perfect repository to give necessities inside a nightstand a proper home. If you were to fill an entire drawer with them, they might keep one another from flopping around inside the drawer, or you might need to get creative by stitching, or hot gluing them to hold together.

Now I'm eyeballing other objects I rarely use to repurpose as vessels to hold other loose things. No need to buy special drums, old coffee mugs work for office supplies, such as pens and pencils which you need to grab repeatedly. Food canning jars come in many sizes: I already use large ones to store pasta and medium ones for syrups. Alternately, there's no reason they can't provide a home for desk supplies such as paper clips and tacks, or household tools like nails.

Furthermore, I use an old glass candle holder for my collection of lip balm. Place on a work space, or somewhere within reach.
Can you get better organized by grabbling a rarely used dish, tank, carrier meant for one thing to repurpose for something else needing a home?


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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Olay's Because Of You Gift Set

Sometimes beauty companies offer their skin care lines at a "special price" in the form of a beauty gift set. At times it's a bargain for a brand you long to try. The Olay "Because of You" Gift Set retails for $159. Olay is offering 5 products for $98.99 here. As a Savvy Shopper looking for the best deal, should you buy it? 

Surprisingly my answer is no, or probably not ... unless you simply want a lovely gift set to make someone you know happy who would benefit from the introduction to good skincare. And ... you don't wish to put a gift set together yourself. However, for value you can get the Olay beauty items for lower price points at Walmart, Target and drugstores (which tend to sell them for less ... before adding their own promotions). Always compare prices to make sure you aren't paying more for beauty products on a retailer's own website. Too often Olay's skin care lotions, creams and treatments are higher when purchased directly on the Olay website.

A 2nd reason not to buy Olay's Because Of You Gift Set is: You are paying for multiple products you may not want or use. So always exaime what's in a retailer's collection: In the above gift set, there are 2 face creams, but do you need both? Probably not as they do much the same things -- moisturize the skin on your face -- with one of them targeted to fight aging. So if you happen to be younger and winkle-free, you should buy the red jar (Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream, Fragrance Free1.7 oz); and as you age you can switch to the purple formula (Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer​, 1.7 oz) to help treat those developing lines and wrinkles.🙁←me. 

What's more, many people can use one cream for their face and under their eyes. Therefore only if your under eye skin is sensitive, do you need to spend another $25 for a separate eye cream.

The other 2 products in the kit are bonuses. The Olay Shine Control Sun SPF 35, 1.3 oz offers excellect sun protection to prevent aging, but I would think about buying it solo on sale to try it; and the Overnight Brightening Gel Mask, 1.7 oz is great for pampering and brightening the skin if you, in fact, need it.

So the verdict is: The set contains top-notch skincare; nonetheless you get a better deal by buying only the products you need elsewhere for less than $100. While you're not being ripped off, the 5  jars of products (at $20 each) is not must of a reduction. It's not a steal!

Sorry Olay ... know that I still love you!


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Monday, April 27, 2020

Glitter Shoes For A Pick Me Up


Bottega Veneta Almond Leather Glitter Pumps here. You know what makes these shoes look chic instead of nerdy? The glitter!!
If you read my blog regularly you may notice that I like glitter and shinny things. On a dark background, such as black or navy blue, rhinstones (or the more costly crystals if you can afford them) pop to jazz up, not only your shoes, but your entire outfit. I have 2 pairs of high heels accented with rhinestones that I often wear paired with a little black dress to attend galas. Dressy, fun and timeless!

So today let's do a quick roundup of glitter shoes in various shoe styles:

Miu Miu Crystal Heel Patent Pump (Returns in November)

Although the style changes slightly from year to year, top shoe designer Miu Miu launches their crystal heels every November (just in time for Christmas and New Year's parties, and it's become one of my holiday rituals to go into their flagship store on West 57th Street to admire them, but I can't bring myself to pay the 4-figures dollar amount for a pair. These are the shoes that would be in my wardrobe if I weren't too cheap to buy them! 
Skechers Double Up Eye Candy here
Now we will travel to the land of affordablilty ...  these equally pleasing  and casual shoes are more likely to be in my closet. You can buy them with a portion of one paycheck, or save up for a pair. Smart with pizazz.
Andy & Zoe Muffin Rhinestone Sneakers here in 6 colors here.
Shimmer smeakers in your favorite color to run weekend errands.
ASOS Design Fairgame Sandles here.
Dearm Pairs Ballet flats on Ebay here.
As you can see from fancy to casual, glitter can cover the whole shoe, or accent it with the choice of many colors to match your tastes and attire. 

Do you like things that glitter and shine?


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Saturday, April 25, 2020

Australian Anzac Biscuits

Photo: BakePlaySmile
Anzac biscuits (or cookies) are baked in Australia and New Zealand on April 25 (today) -- ANZAC Day -- to remember the 2 counties' joint Gallipoli landings during World War I. These were the biscuits the wivies of the troops baked and sent over to them. My blogging friend, Patricia of the Red Cardinal made me aware of them, and hopefully she will check my ingredients for authenticity (and correct them if needed):

Anzac Biscuits

Ingredients: 

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup brown sugar (some recipes use regular white sugar)
1 cup quick cooking oats (or you could substitute old fashion -- 5-minute oats.)
3/4 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, soften
2 tablespoons golden syrup (In the USA, you'll have to make your own golden syrup, just click for how to make it.)

Optional: Not really authentic, but if you wish to press a few crushed walnuts into some of the cookies do!

Directions:

1) Stir together the flour, baking soda and sugar.

2) Add the oats and coconut.

3) Next the wet ingredients: Toss in the soften butter and golden syrup. If the batter is dry add a few drops of hot water.

4) Use a tablespoon to dip out the batter and drop the cookies on a cookie sheet. You can flatten them with the spoon.

5) Bake at 350 degrees F for 18 - 20 minutes.

Happy ANZAC Day to Partrica and all my readers on the Southern hemisphere! Mmm, these Anzac cookies are keepers.


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